December 4, 2009
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Washington, D.C.—The Washington Capitals received six goals from five different players, and goalie Semyon Varlamov was not dented until well after the outcome had been decided, as the Caps cruised to a 6-2 win over a very tired Florida Panthers team, before not quite a capacity crowd at Verizon Center.
Florida was playing its third game in four nights, beating Colorado in overtime last night at home, and it really showed.
The Panthers never really had their legs, and it got worse as the night went on, as they took penalty after penalty, accumulating with rookie Mike Duco taking seven minutes worth of major penalty time for instigating and fighting (plus a misconduct and game misconduct) after he jumped Alexandre Giroux solely because Giroux had the temerity to finish a heavy check behind the Panther goal.
Capitals coach Bruce Boudeau was pointed on his assessment of Duco's play, on which the Caps scored twice, putting the game out of reach. "You get a good hit, and not a hard hit, and you take exception to a hit?" he said. "It's stupid. It's a dumb thing and [Duco] took their team totally out of a chance to win the game."
As for the Caps scoring, it was early, often, and varied. Alexander Semin, returning from a seven game absence with a wrist injury, scored twice, the first on a wicked wrist shot to start the festivities, and later on the seven minute power play.
"[Semin] didn't miss a beat at all," Brendan Morrison (power play goal, two assists) said. "He got us going with an early goal, a beautiful goal -- a toe drag and a great shot. Not too many guys can do that. It got us going on the bench."
Asked about the performance of the "other" Alex, Boudreau quipped, "He was well-rested. He should have had a lot of energy."
The Caps got three power play goals in twelve chances, something they have been struggling with in recent games. And Matt Bradley added a short-handed marker—a "change-up" as he described it—the first for Washington this season.
Washington outshot Florida 44-28, a testament to the complete domination of a very tired team.
"They could have been a little tired," Morrison said. "We talked about getting on them early."
"I like the way we followed the game plan in the beginning [because] we thought they would be tired," Boudreau said of the Panthers, who got into D.C. around 3:00 am. "[If] we attacked them early and got them down early, they wouldn't have the strength to come back. It worked well."
Captain Chris Clark talked about the defensive effort being triggered by the good puck movement on offense. "Our good defense came from us having the puck in the offensive zone."
"We had a lot of chances at the net and we just kept piling on down low and not turning the puck over on the blue lines or up high where they could get an odd-man rush."
Varlamov made 26 saves on 28 shots, and made just one mistake—allowing a big rebound to Steven Weiss, who followed his own shot and beat the young netminder to get Florida on the board. The Panthers got another one just a few moments later on a puck the looked like it was redirected twice.
The win was the Capitals' fourth straight overall and it improved their record against the Southeast Division to 6-0-0.
It's also the third win in three games against Florida, all without Alex Ovechkin. The Great Eight missed the first two contests with his shoulder injury and tonight's affair due to his two-game suspension for a kneeing game misconduct against Carolina Monday night.
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